Isabelle Clauss, a patent attorney at Bristol Myers Squibb, bikes to and from work each day on the Lawrenceville-Hopewell Trail.

Patent attorney cycles to work no matter the weather

Trading a 12-minute drive for a 35-minute bike ride

September 17, 2019     

Isabelle Clauss, a patent attorney with a Ph.D. in molecular biology, began biking to work every day more than a year ago. The 35-minute daily commute from Hopewell, N.J., to Bristol Myers Squibb’s Lawrenceville campus, she says, can often feel more like a visit to Scotland or Kenya.

She uses the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), a 20 mile paved path that winds through fields and forests in central New Jersey. As she goes, she listens a recording of a local musician and the sound of his bagpipes rolls off Rosedale Lake’s glassy surface in the fog. The regular view of a glorious heron by the big pond along with the sun rising over the distant meadow is reminiscent of time she spent years ago enjoying a new day on the plains of Africa.

Born in Europe and raised in Africa, Clauss joined Bristol Myers Squibb in 2012. Her world view – and a daily commute on the LHT – help her connect the dots between her current life, her previous experiences and her passions for science, nature, active sports and community.

Isabelle Clauss is among at least 30 Bristol Myer Squibb employees who commute to work by bike, rather than car.

Isabelle Clauss is among at least 30 Bristol Myer Squibb employees who commute to work by bike, rather than car.

In 2001, when company representatives launched the effort to build a bike trail using three campuses in Lawrence and Hopewell Townships as anchors, they had two goals in mind. First, as a good corporate citizen in central New Jersey, they wanted to create a lasting asset in the communities that would promote health and recreation.

Just as important was enabling Bristol Myers Squibb representatives to work collaboratively with other community residents and leaders, building a biking and walking trail that would benefit area residents.

Other partners in the creation of the LHT have been Lawrence and Hopewell Township governments, the Mercer County Planning Department, the N.J. Departments of Environmental Protect and Transportation, as well as several nonprofit organizations.

20 miles and counting

With the May 31 opening of the newest segment of the LHT on the ETS campus down the road from the Bristol Myers Squibb Lawrenceville site, the trail is now more than 20 miles long – 20.25 miles to be exact. When the trail’s original loop is completed in the next few years, it will measure about 22.5 miles.

The trail already allows for a safe and scenic commute to and from the office for many employees.

Each morning, Clauss loads a backpack with her work clothes and lunch at home in Pennington. After arriving at the office, she heads to the fitness center to shower and then to up to the fourth floor to begin her legal work. She does a reverse commute at the end of the day, where she bikes home to her husband and three teenagers.

While the bike ride is three times as long as the 12-minute car drive, the benefits far outweigh the cost of time, said Clauss. She recently joined the LHT’s public relations and events committee to help get the word out about the trails benefits.

There are at least 30 other Bristol Myers Squibb employees who opt to regularly bike to work, according to John Murray, director, Facilities Operations, and a BMS representative on the board of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, a nonprofit launched by the company in 2002.

Commuting is just one way Bristol Myers Squibb employees use the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, Murray said. About 30 loaner bikes are available at the Lawrenceville and Princeton Pike campuses for colleagues who want a fresh air break. Some ride to area restaurants along the LHT for lunch while others travel the three miles between Lawrenceville and Princeton Pike facilities for meetings.

Sustainable growth award

On June 5, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and its contributing partners – including Bristol Myers Squibb – were recognized with a prestigious Smart Growth Award, bestowed by a leading civic organization, New Jersey Future. The award honors projects that represent the best examples of growth and development in New Jersey. Seven projects were recognized this year.

“If there’s one theme running through all these winners, it’s connectivity,” said New Jersey Future Trustee Andrew Hendry. “These winners will truly be transformational well beyond their own footprints.”

To view New Jersey Future’s video on the LHT, please visit:

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